A LONG and bitter row between Tonge Fold residents and landowners over an access route into Leverhulme Park could soon be resolved.

Consultation has ended after Bolton Council, acting on instruction from the Planning Inspectorate, advertised a legal order for the creation of a public footpath at Edditch Farm, off Hengist Street.

The issue dates back to 2010 when Hengist Street resident Anthony Moulden, aged 71, who is supported by several of his neighbours, appealed to the council to create the public footpath after the owners of the land, Myra and Barry Peake, who live at the farm, built a gate on the site, blocking any potential access.

Mr Moulden, who has lived in the area all of his life, said: “For as long as I can remember, people around here have used that route to get into Leverhulme Park, then suddenly this gate appeared. There is another route round, but it is muddy and potentially dangerous.”

The Peakes, who have lived at the farm for about 20 years, said they bought that particular piece of land three years ago, and there has has never been an official access route.

Mrs Peake, aged 57, said: “There is an official route that leads straight into the park, the council should be spending money on improving that rather than dealing with something that has never been a footpath.

“It is our land and we have every right to do what we want with it and a number of people have written to the council in support of us.”

The initial application for the path was rejected by the council, but an appeal was then lodged with the Planning Inspectorate which, in 2012, instructed the local authority to make and advertise a legal order to create the path in the area.

However, owing to “financial limitations” and the fact no time limit was imposed by the Planning Inspectorate, this order was not advertised until last month.

The order marked the start of a consultation period to allow people to comment on the potential creation of the path, which has now closed.

Cllr Nick Peel, Cabinet member for the environment said: “The appeal was opposed originally but we have to abide by the decision of the Planning Inspectorate.

“Now the consultation is finished I, as the cabinet member, will look at the comments and make a decision.

“This can then be appealed by going back to the Planning Inspectorate.”